Welcome Evorack to The Space

Farset Labs would like to introduce our latest corporate member, Evorack!

Owned and operated by Belfast firm ABPNI Computer Solutions Ltd, and run by our own member Jonny Tripathy (don’t worry, he’s still paying membership as well!), Evorack provides Linux and Windows virtual server hosting solutions based on the open source Xen Hypervisor platform.

In conjunction with Evorack’s infrastructure and experience, Farset Labs hopes to roll-out server hosting tools to our members, enabling them to develop, test, build (and break) cool cloud apps and services.

With the number of new innovations in web-based apps and services having some sort of cloud back-end, it is only natural that Farset provides these resources to our members.

Over the next days we’ll be transferring much of our web infrastructure to Evorack, and implementing member level, private web storage, VPN, and community application servers. As with most things there may be a few hiccups… But we’ll make it through.

Anyway, welcome on board guys!

Raspberry Jam: So good we’re going to *preserve* it in our calendar

Friday night saw the Event Space in Farset Labs packed with eager attendees to Northern Ireland’s first ever Raspberry Jam.

Raspberry Jam is a rapidly growing global network of Raspberry Pi users that regularly meet and, following the success of Friday’s Jam, Farset Labs is pleased to announce that the event will be joining our wide and eclectic event calendar as a monthly fixture.
With the Event Space stuffed with in excess of thirty attendees, with an age-range stretching from six to sixty and abilities ranging from the simply curious to the robot-controlling masterminds of future world-domination. In respect to the latter, one of the most impressive projects on show was the use of a Pi to control an NXT robotics system; this was from a (impressively uniformed, for 7pm) sixth form student from Dalriada School, giving weight to the hopes of the Raspberry Pi Foundation that their innovation will ignite the passion for tinkering and technology in schools. Of course, not only is the Pi a wonderful development system, it can also run a variety of more consumer oriented tasks; if loaded up with RaspBMC software, you now have an immensely capable £25 media centre.

After the scheduled session, the assembled users had the chance to mix, compare experiences and work collaboratively, demoing, among others, Quake 3 running on the Pi and a system for the Pi built entirely from Freecycle, including a hacked screen from an in-car entertainment system and a jury-rigged powered USB hub with connections to a keyboard, mouse and wireless card.

Future sessions intend to cover alternative distributions (operating systems for the Raspberry Pi), strange use cases and hardware interfacing, both via direct link and also the Gertboard. Suffice to say, having seen the users on Friday, the road ahead will be fast, interesting and, above all, full of unexpected turnings.

Check out the obligatory timelapse below, which is slightly cut off due to the fact that the level of activity throughout the day filled the modest card!

(Apologies for the awful, awful pun, but William Cully wasn’t available for consultation at 3am.)

Raspberry Jam and Generation Innovation

Generation Innovation

Entrepreneurial students Ben Crawford, Priory College and Sarah Moore, Lismore Comprehensive School demonstrate the Nexus 7 controlled AR.Drone 2.0 to Meagan Blanton, NISP-Connect.

Last Night, we were invited to join NISP and a range of other sponsoring agencies to help out at the Generation Innovation event in the Titanic Building, which is a mentor-ship and networking programme for the Next Generation of Northern Irish Entrepreneurship.

This event was not only an awful lot of fun for us (apart from nearly de-limbing a few people with the catastrophic failure of our recently donated AR Drone 2.0 experimental platform… Sorry) but was also a great opportunity to show this brilliant young group of people what you can do with a little bit of gumption and a lot of hope, and just a little bit of enabling tech.

Kids from all over the province joined us, having been selected in each of their schools for being ‘high potential’ (read: Not “Highest marks”, or “Fastest Legs”, or “Most Popular”), and we were also joined by a cavalcade of tech founders from companies big and small (somehow all three Farset Labs directors got asked to speak…), dotted across the room.

360 Production made this fantastic animation to showcase what Generation Innovation is all about.

But the real show stoppers were the interviews and speeches given by some epic members of the Northern Ireland Entrepreneurship Family, such as Steve Orr (NISP Guru In Chief), David Perry (Gaming God), Andrew Fulton (Gen I  Alumnus), Danny Moore (Wombat-er, CTO NYSE Euronext, and now Lough Shore Investor) , and Carol Fitzsimons (Young Enterprise NI) which were truely inspiring to the rag-tag group of young people.

By my favourite bit was the Pi’s. Raspberry Pi’s

Each Lucky Kid was given a Raspberry Pi gratis. Good For Some.

Somehow I managed to gatecrash the stage and putting this fantastic opportunity they’ve  been given, and tied it to our recent successful funding for our 3D Printer, and said something long these lines…

Me, presenting the Generation Innovation kids (and the lightning team) with a challenge!

“Technologies like 3D Printers and the Raspberry Pis you’ve received today are revolutionising the world of design and manufacture; physical prototypes take hours to produce not days. With flexible hardware and software frameworks, even the most intricate product and service ideas can be developed rapidly, tested quickly, presented immediately, and if they are failures, they’re fast failures, allowing you, as the next generation of Northern Irish Entrepreneurs, to move onto the next idea.”

Raspberry Jam

You do not need to have a Raspberry Pi to come to a meeting. In fact, not having a Raspberry Pi is an excellent motive for coming along.

Eventbrite - Raspberry JamIn the spirit of such unprepared and completely not rehearsed (!) sentiment, I’ll remind you all of our Raspberry Jam event coming up next week.

Raspberry Jam is a rapidly growing global network of user groups that meet every month to support hobbyists, developers, teachers, students, children and families – in fact, anybody that would like to put their Raspberry Pi to good use. While Raspberry Jam is not endorsed, sponsored or associated with Raspberry Pi or Raspberry Pi products or services, some of our regular members are volunteers for the Raspberry Pi Foundation. At our meetings we have helpful people who can help you with everything you need to get what you want from your Raspberry Pi.

This will be Farset Labs’ first Raspberry Pi centred event, and if successful, will be built into the event calendar.

Raspberry Jam is a Farset Labs Members event, so visitors will be expected to make a small donation either in the form of an online ticket, or chucking a few coins in the tin in person.

You do not need to have a Raspberry Pi to come to a meeting. In fact, not having a Raspberry Pi is an excellent motive for coming along.
You will discover what you can do with a Raspberry Pi when you do manage to get hold of one.
Stuff we’ll be trying out:
  • A ‘beginners guide’ walk through of how to get started with your Pi
  • Some show-and-tell demonstrations of cool projects people have already done with their Pi’s
  • Breaking to a relaxed evening of Pi-Jamming, where everyone is encouraged to share their experiences.
Under-18’s are welcome to attend the event accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Time: 18:00, Friday 30 November

Address: Farset Labs, 1 Weavers Court, Belfast, BT12 5GH

What to Bring (if you have them please bring any or all of the following, but don’t worry, we have spares so you can just bring yourself):

  • Raspberry Pi.
  • Laptop.
  • HDMI cable.
  • USB lead (Male USB A to Male Micro USB B).
  • USB mouse, USB keyboard.
  • Computer monitor with HDMI input.

THIS EVENT IS IN HIGH DEMAND SO PLEASE BOOK AHEAD OF TIME TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT

Eventbrite - Raspberry Jam

 

You did it! Our 3D printer is in the post!

Our long and exciting Sponsume campaign is finally over, and there is evidently plenty of support for a 3D printer within the space – we raised over £100 extra by the time the fundraiser was finished. In the time that it ran, we saw very evident spikes and patterns, which coincided nicely with various announcements and media publishers.

Breakdown of rewards
Breakdown of donators by which reward they chose

We’d like to thank everyone who helped get the word out about the campaign, and would especially like to thank every single person who backed the Sponsume appeal. Even now we are getting occasional offers from people who want to chip in a little more towards consumables. We hope that everyone that donated enjoys their rewards, which will be sent out in the following weeks after they are all organised and produced.

Once the custom print rewards are finished, the 3D printer will be open for every member of Farset Labs to access whenever they wish. Significant quantities of PLA and ABS plastic have been ordered, and this is open for all members to use in small-scale production. Anyone wishing to make lots of models or make very big items is requested to play fair and buy their own plastic, or donate towards getting more for the space. Apart from that, there are absolutely no restrictions on use, and we look forward to seeing what people make with the machine.

The Ultimaker is now in the post, and is expected within around a week. Announcements will be made when it arrives, and everyone involved in the fundraiser and purchase will be invited down to build and be the first to use it.

Once again, thank you to everyone that helped. Thanks to you, we now have a fantastic tool to make Farset Labs a much more useful and interesting place.

Farset Labs’ Legal Encounter

UPDATEDThe original letters sent to Farset Labs have been linked to throughout the article for context and transparency. Further questions will be answered via email at admin@farsetlabs.org.uk

Farset Labs has gone from strength to strength since opening its doors in April of this year, and the community has grown and matured quickly, but our summer progress was slower than was hoped for. Our entire model and ethos is built on transparency and democracy, so we publish this document to explain to our membership and supporters the difficulties placed in our path due to litigation launched by Latens/Pace plc.

Out of the blue, on the 14th June, multiple copies of a letter were hand delivered to Farset Labs by Pinsent Masons, legal representatives of Latens/Pace, as well as emailed to several different accounts of the Directors whether they were Farset Labs related or personal, work and university inboxes. One of our members had been accused on their last day of work of stealing sensitive Confidential Information from their employer and transmitting it to Farset Labs. The letter explained that we had possession of their property, and that it it was on our equipment. It demanded that we exclude an allegedly-involved member from the premises and cut all communication with him pending completion of their investigations. Two of the Directors have known the member for almost a decade, having gone to the same school, and so for a demand to come through to sever all contact was seen to be unreasonable. Continue reading Farset Labs’ Legal Encounter

Fundraising, Lightning, and More

Summary

HacksHackers with Bobbie Johnson

The October HacksHackers event at Farset Labs played host to Bobbie Johnson of Matter fame, who also regularly contributes to the popular GigaOM site and is proprietor of the brilliant @ifyouonly. Bobbie flew over from Brighton specifically for the two-hour event, and landed mid-morning in the George Best Belfast City Airport. After some breakfast, he and those at Farset settled into setting up for the event.

The talk kicked off at 4pm with an interested crowd engaging in the two-hour-long interactive talk, with many asking questions, particularly on Bobbie’s challenges he had faced. Specifically, Mr Johnson spoke about his Kickstarter success with Matter and the process that shaped it, particularly the viral nature of the fundraising campaign. He spoke of how the majority of the money was raised in under 36 hours, leaving much more time to work on the final product.

Matter is a soon-to-be-released online publication for long-form journalism and in-depth reporting. Hopefully pumping four stories out per month eventually, it aims to replicate the investigative meat of a print magazine but with a more granular purchasing mechanism allowing readers to buy what they want to read and no more; signal-to-noise improvement, as it were. It is set to launch soon with one long story, with more being added regularly to produce a regular stream of content.

The talk continued with more questions probing the need for such a service, to which Bobbie answered that he and his team had decided to do it just because no-one else had, and to test the model. Questions continued for around an hour afterwards and the group broke up shortly afterwards, after several one-on-one discussions and some networking.

Bobbie will be talking at several venues in the near future about Matter to promote its upcoming launch, and the Belfast chapter of HacksHackers will likely be returning in the near future to Farset for more events.